Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

08 Mar 2007

McGahee Traded to Ravens for Three Picks

The Bills have traded Willis McGahee to the Ravens for the Ravens third- and seventh-round picks in 2006 and their third-round pick in 2007. That represents a draft value of somewhere around a very late second-rounder, depending upon where the pick is next year. The Bills apparently dealt McGahee in fear of not being able to sign him next year. At this point, do you think the NFL has noticed that the Bills are pouting?

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 08 Mar 2007

169 comments, Last at 15 Mar 2007, 9:22pm by Yaguar

Comments

1
by mmm... sacrilicious (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 2:58pm

Great deal for the Ravens.

2
by Gus (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 3:02pm

It seems to me that Buffalo undervalued McGahee because of their lackluster offensive line. I suppose it's not that bad of a deal for Fubbalo considering the trade value of RBs in general hasn't been great, but I think it's hard to see how the Ravens and their good run-blocking line don't benefit from this deal. Finally, B-More brings in somebody. For a while, I thought their entire off-season would be letting people go.

3
by zip (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 3:06pm

As a Buffalo fan.... shit.

4
by Mike (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 3:09pm

The Bills offensive line wasn't anything special, I'll admit, but it's not the only reason why McGahee struggled. He has a negative DVOA last year, and has never averaged above 4.0 yards per carry, despite running behind a similar (or worse!) offensive line that Travis Henry had back to back big seasons behind.

5
by Pat F. (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 3:14pm

So... why'd the Ravens sign Mike Anderson again?

I guess McGahee and Anderson could make an effective if rather expensive committee. Still, it's not a bad trade for the Ravens, but it doesn't strike me as a particularly good one either. McGahee's only about average rushing, even slightly below, in both DVOA and conventional stats, and his receiving is also subpar. Baltimore's somewhat superior line should help him a bit, but I'd honestly rather have the picks.

6
by Jesse (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 3:15pm

Bad trade for Buffalo, mediocre trade for the Ravens

7
by Mike (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 3:16pm

Also of note: McGahee is abysmal in blitz pickup. A solid drag on your passing game.

8
by Bill Barnwell :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 3:16pm

The picks are a problem but the bigger concern, to be honest, is the contract that McGahee will be getting shortly.

9
by Mike B. (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 3:18pm

I'm unsurprised. Willis' mouth wore out his welcome in Buffalo, and there's no way he would've re-signed with them. I think this is probably a good move for the Bills, long-term.

10
by sam (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 3:20pm

The Bills have traded Willis McGahee to the Ravens for the Ravens third- and seventh-round picks in 2006 and their third-round pick in 2007

So did Ozzie Newsome find his time machine or did you mean that the Bills received the Ravens' 3rd and 7th round picks in '07 and third round pick in '08?

11
by PaulH (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 3:20pm

I'm not an expert, but it seems like a great pick-up for the Ravens.

The Bills, well, seem like they will continue to stay in the cellar with moves like this.

It sounds like the Ravens had had a great offseason to a large degree. Yes, they lost Adalius Thomas, but they did get a major upgrade to the offense in McGahee, and as we all know, Baltimore needed improved offense to win it all.

If McNair can hold up another year, it could be the Ravens year with a playmaker at tailback. Don't forget, the Ravens finished first in total DVOA in 2006.

Another question, where are the Ravens planning to go at quarterback? McNair is still productive, but he is getting towards the end of his career, and the Ravens will probably start grooming a starter for the future now. Obviously, Quinn won't fall far enough, but what about a guy like Stanton or someone like that?

12
by Bruce Dickinson (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 3:30pm

definitely stanton. or trade up for JaMarcus Russell with some of the remaining draft picks.

13
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 3:35pm

As a Ravens fan I'm lukewarm towards this trade. I like the move but we maybe gave up a bit too much for McGahee. Reason why I like it:

1) McGahee is only 25 years old, finding quality young RBs in the free agent market is impossible.
2) Of our 22 starting positions RB was the only spot that was a definite weakness, now it isn't a strength but at least Willis can hold his own.
3) McGahee, Ray Ray, and Ed Reed are all pals (the U connexion), so hopefully Willis will be in a good mood, study dilligently, etc.
4) Although he did have one catastrophic injury in college, he seems healthy and hasn't been overworked in his 3 years in Buffalo.

So for the first time in Ravens franchise history, dare I say they have a quality RB and QB at the same time?

14
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 3:35pm

Re: 8

I agree. I'm guessing that Rosenhaus and McGahee have pretty high expectations on what his next contract (his only real shot at a big payday) will be. The Ravens (undoubtedly aware of the contract expectations) are apparently prepared to make a pretty big bet on Willis.

15
by dryheat (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 3:36pm

It seems to me that McGahee has been solidly mediocre the last year and a half.

I like the trade for the Bills, pending what they do to replace him. I've always liked healthy Correll Buckhalter. A Buckhalter/Toefield backfield would seem to be a cost effective, and potentially productive, one. Unless they think they can squeeze a year out of Dillon.

16
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 3:37pm

Am I the only one here who thinks the ravens got hosed? Thats way too much value to give up for a RB.

Although, I think MgAhee is better than people think. Hes been playing behind an abysmal line (much worse than that line in Ten) his whole career, and has been playing on a team that has never had a credible passing offense.

That being said, what the hell happened to Mike Anderson?

17
by Shooter (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 3:38pm

Good deal for the Bills. Traded a RB while he has market value, instead of letting him walk as a FA. The Bills are obviously building for the LT, so stock piling picks makes sense. The new front office also did fairly well in the draft last year so they should make something of the picks.

18
by mactbone (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 3:38pm

W.McGahee DPAR=13.8 DPAR Rank=24 DVOA=-1.6% DVOA Rank=27
J.Lewis DPAR=3.8 DPAR Rank=40 DVOA=-9.9% DVOA Rank=39

McGahee had a DVOA of -0.1% last year.

It's an upgrade from abysmal to bad. Yay Ravens.

19
by Ray (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 3:38pm

If the Bills are sure they wouldn't resign him, then I'd think this is a pretty good deal for them. At least this way you get something for him. Any time you can pick up a few first day picks (even if they aren't in the same year) for a guy who's only going to give you one more year of mediocre production is nice.

20
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 3:41pm

"McGahee had a DVOA of -0.1% last year."

Running back DVOA is as much a display of the Line as it is of the Back.

McGahee was right around average, yes. The other RB on his team had a DVOA of -24.5. That tells me that most likely, the line is awful.

21
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 3:41pm

This years QB class (like the RB class as well) is pretty weak after the top two players, my guess is that the Ravens will use the draft for LB and OL depth. Boller is still a pretty good backup.

re: Pat F.
Anderson is 34. He's effective in small doses but no way you can expect him to carry the load.

22
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 3:42pm

BUF was 26 in ALY, and 30 in pass protection, os their line is god awful.

23
by mactbone (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 3:44pm

Or the other running back was Anthony Thomas. You know, the guy who fell off a cliff after 2001.

24
by JasonK (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 3:46pm

I like this trade for Buffalo, too. Got rid of a loudmouthed malcontent who only had 1 year left on his contract, and gained 2 first-day picks. That's a win in my book.

25
by Gus (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 3:49pm

22: That illustrates my point nicely. McGahee would've had to be pretty damn amazing to average over 4.0 behind that line. He's a bruiser who actually has some speed, and is young enough to have three or four prime years left in the tank.

A pair of third round picks and a seventh rounder is a fine price to pay, given that the Ravens don't have very many holes in their roster.

26
by Jordy (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 3:50pm

Ol' Marv got a better package than the Bears got for Tom Jones.

27
by CA (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 3:56pm

Re: 8

The picks are a problem but the bigger concern, to be honest, is the contract that McGahee will be getting shortly.

Bill is exactly right. The picks seem to me a little much for an average running back with an injury history, but the key is what the Ravens end up paying him in his next contract. I suspect that they will grossly overpay for his services, something that Buffalo apparently was unwilling to do. If that's the case, then the Bills will have received the equivalent of a late second round draft pick for a not particularly good player who would have only been with the team for one more season anyway. Meanwhile, the Ravens will overpay for mediocre production at a position in which it is relatively easy to get mediocre production for low cost. The Ravens look like suckers to me, athough not as big of suckers as the Bills looked when they wasted a first round draft pick on an injured McGahee when a healthy Larry Johnson was available.

28
by mactbone (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 3:56pm

BAL is 19th and BUF is 26th in ALY. That's not a huge difference.

According to the draft chart, the Bills got the equivalent of a late second-rounder. According to the draft chart the Bears got the equivalent of a high third-rounder. So, yeah, the Bills got slightly more value for a RB four years younger.

29
by James, London (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 4:06pm

I don't know that this is a great deal for Baltimore. IIRC, McGahee has 1 year left on his contract, and next year he's going to want Big Bucks.

McGahee
2006 13.8 DPAR, -1.6% DVOA
2005 20.0 DPAR, -1.3% DVOA
2004 18.7 DPAR, 0.5% DVOA

It's not brilliant is it?

Baltimore have given up two 3rds & a 7th for an at best average RB, who will want an enormous contract, or for a 1 year lease on the same back.

Are the Backs in the draft really that bas this year?

30
by Randy S. (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 4:16pm

26 - It's not unusual for Marv to pull one over on someone.

31
by Frogger (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 4:18pm

#27:

This is the same problem I have with the Broncos acquisition of Bly. Why anyone gives up value for a player in the last year of his contract is beyond me. Does Bly or Willis M. put either one of their new teams "over the top" next year? Highly unlikely.

32
by Insancipitory (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 4:19pm

I'm sure the playoff picture for the Ravens puts a little bit of pressure on them. If they're going to hoist another Lombardi trophy, there's not a whole lot of sand in the hourglass. With McGahee, they know what they'll get. If the right guy falls to them in the draft, so be it, but should that fail, they've got their duct tape and bailing wire.

33
by Adam B. (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 4:28pm

Doesn't analysis of the deal, from Buffalo's perspective, depend on who ends up starting for them at RB, and at what salary? Dominic Rhodes? Chris Brown?

34
by giving him the business (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 4:37pm

As a Jets fan, I'm thrilled. McGahee looked like a HOFer every time he took the field against the Jets. I'll take the occasional matchup over twice a year. Thanks, fluffalo.

35
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 4:38pm

McGahee seems like he's being judged pretty harshly considering he was on a team with NO offensive line and NO quarterback. The only other offensive threat was Lee Evans. I'd be shocked if Willis didn't have a monster season this year.

The interesting thing about this trade was it makes me wonder how the Bears couldn't at least get an additional second day pick for Thomas Jones.

35
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 4:38pm

McGahee seems like he's being judged pretty harshly considering he was on a team with NO offensive line and NO quarterback. The only other offensive threat was Lee Evans. I'd be shocked if Willis didn't have a monster season this year.

The interesting thing about this trade was it makes me wonder how the Bears couldn't at least get an additional second day pick for Thomas Jones.

35
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 4:38pm

McGahee seems like he's being judged pretty harshly considering he was on a team with NO offensive line and NO quarterback. The only other offensive threat was Lee Evans. I'd be shocked if Willis didn't have a monster season this year.

The interesting thing about this trade was it makes me wonder how the Bears couldn't at least get an additional second day pick for Thomas Jones.

38
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 4:38pm

McGahee seems like he's being judged pretty harshly considering he was on a team with NO offensive line and NO quarterback. The only other offensive threat was Lee Evans. I'd be shocked if Willis didn't have a monster season this year.

The interesting thing about this trade was it makes me wonder how the Bears couldn't at least get an additional second day pick for Thomas Jones.

38
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 4:38pm

McGahee seems like he's being judged pretty harshly considering he was on a team with NO offensive line and NO quarterback. The only other offensive threat was Lee Evans. I'd be shocked if Willis didn't have a monster season this year.

The interesting thing about this trade was it makes me wonder how the Bears couldn't at least get an additional second day pick for Thomas Jones.

40
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 4:39pm

Oops... my bad.

41
by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 4:42pm

"BUF was 26 in ALY, and 30 in pass protection, os their line is god awful."

You missed the part where the Bills were 5% above average in power situations, just outside the top 10. They were also pretty much league average in avoiding stuffs.

And yet in the stat that is supposed to separate the line from the back, 10+, the Bills (McGahee) were 26th.

Interesting, huh?

42
by BC Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 4:46pm

methinks Marv Levy is gathering the ammo for a trade into the top 10 for Okoye, one of the ends, or the best back on the board.

43
by TTP (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 4:50pm

Maghee is the very definition of the fungible RB. To me, he appears to be a tentative runner who "plays slow." I don't think he will look much better behind a mediocre (or worse) Raven's OL. Good deal for the Bills, IMO.

44
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 4:53pm

Cleveland has a back, Buffalo has a whackload of picks and needs a back.

Maybe Adrian Peterson?

45
by blahh (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 4:57pm

is mcgahee a first round pick in fantasy now, because he's tortured my team the last two years when i took a chance on him? (thanks pfp 2005)

46
by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 5:22pm

#42- Interesting take.

Could Buffalo sign Dillon or Duckett to be the cold weather power back behind those mammoth O-Lineman they just signed. Maybe they trade up to 3 for AP?

Do you guys think Atlanta would also consider trading up for a RB with that new Regime?

Who are the Giants running backs going to be next year?

47
by McGayTrain (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 5:38pm

I'm reading a lot of general Bills-bashing, most of which is justified. But lets look at this a little more closely.

For Buffalo -- McGahee was a great back . . . in 2004. Since then, he has been average to fair. Newsome said he was good receiving and in blitz pick-up. He's just wrong. McGahee didn't study enough to learn the 3d down formations and audibles, so he had to be removed frequently. Usually, he proceeded to pout and/or vomit in response (that "Miami work-ethic" Newsome blabbed about).

For Baltimore -- Does Baltimore have extra picks this year? Otherwise, they seem to wagering that McNair will be solid again. CW says that is a bad bet. What does DVOA say? (I'm in no mood for research).

This trade favors Buffalo, if for no other reason than the fact that McGahee was not resigning in Buffalo after 2007.

48
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 5:47pm

PFT is reporting that the contract will be $40+ million for seven years, with 24 million over the first four years. Assuming that's correct, the Ravens will be paying $6 million annually for McGahee (though the short term cap hit is lower than that).

So the money they could have spent to keep Thomas they used to obtain McGahee. Not sure I would have done it that way, but who knows.

49
by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 5:47pm

So Buffalo gambeled on drafting the injured Mcghee in the first round. After the 04 season people thought that they " won" that "bet", but now a few years later Willis is traded for a late 3rd round pick ( and a 7th rounder).

So now I ask, was the injured Willis worth the 1st round pick?

50
by mactbone (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 5:48pm

Re 47:
We won't know McNair's projection until PFP2008 comes out but I'm willing to bet it's not that great.

Baltimore improved a position which is good. However, I question whether they couldn't find some other guy to carry the load. Chester Taylor may have sucked in Minnesota but he looked good for a year in Bal. You'd think Bal would have confidence they could find another guy like that.

51
by C (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 5:55pm

The amazing part to me is how the Bills took a chance on Willis late in the first round after his bad knee injury and paid him a lot of money to rehab for a year. He was so unhappy they had to know he was not going to re-sign with the Bills, so why not get some value now? I imagine the Bills have a lot of needs in the draft, based upon their record, so it seems the deal was at least OK for both sides.

52
by McGayTrain (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 5:57pm

The pick was not worth it.

Buffalo used a 1st on McGahee. Mcgahee was now traded for a high 2d equivalent. BUT --

Travis Henry was there in 2003, and was very productive. They traded Henry for a 3d last year.

So in the end Buffalo retains neither, but got 1 good year, 2 fair years, and aforementioned high 2d pick.

What have we learned? Buffalo likes trading RBs it considers fungible in their last contract year.

But Buffalo could've kept Henry and used the pick elsewhere. It is likely IMO Henry would've been no less productive than McGahee. In that scenario, Buffalo would now have waived Henry, taken a slight cap hit, and had the services of a different first-rounder for the last several years.

All that speculation is moot however, b/c under Donohoe, the lines were poorly addressed.

53
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 6:05pm

'with 24 million over the first four years.'

Oops, make that $20.4 million over the first four years. So it's really closer to $5 million annually.

54
by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 6:11pm

C- Buffalos record actually wasn't all that bad.

52- I'd tend to agree that drafting Willis was NOT worth it for buffalo. It is funny though how the media was talking about how much of a steal he was in 04.

Here is some trivia for you MMQB's out there...You know who was picked 4 picks after Willis Mcghee in the 2003 draft?

You might have heard of him, the KC Chiefs took Larry Johnson. Ouch.

55
by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 6:18pm

"So now I ask, was the injured Willis worth the 1st round pick?"

No. He wasn't worth it then and he wasn't worth even after 2004.

"For Buffalo — McGahee was a great back . . . in 2004."

No. He wasn't. He had a nice DPAR. His DVOA was literally average(what does good DPAR but low DVOA tell us?). His success rate was horrid. He had good "traditional" stats in 2004, and got all the adulation because the Bills defense and special teams almost single handedly salvaged the season. Somehow, McGahee got all the credit for that.

56
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 6:25pm

The deal seems to be a 4 year/$20mil deal. $5 million a year for a quality 25 year old RB isn't that bad.

re: 8, 27, 29, 31
The Ravens made the trade after they had negotiated with McGahee, it was all set up earlier this week (see the Mulitalo cut), the delay in anouncing it was due to the negotiations.

re: 47
Chester Taylor was a great 3rd down back who excelled in space, but wasn't tough enough to handle a full workload and run between the tackles. He wanted to be paid like a full time back and he got his wish, but he's simply not that effective a RB.

The whole 'RBs are fungible' I certainly agree with in theory ('in theory...' etc), but at the same time you have to be realistic. The Ravens needed a upgrade at RB, and all the free agent RBs were either old (Dillon, J. Lewis, A. Green), injury prone (Buckhalter, C. Brown), or relatively ineffective (Rhodes, considering how much more efficient Addai was). There really isn't much value in the draft after AP and Lynch, so if the Ravens wanted decent production out of the RB position they more or less had to make this move.

57
by Ryan (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 6:30pm

From PFT

McGAHEE DEAL: SEVEN YEARS, $40.12 MILLION

We're told that the Ravens and running back Willis McGahee are very close to agreeing on a seven-year deal worth $40.12 million.

As we previously explained, McGahee will receive $7.5 million to sign, an initial option bonus of $6 million, and a second option bonus of $1.5 million. The salaries are $595,000 in 2007, $605,000 in 2008, $620,000 in 2009, $3.6 million in 2010, $6.0 million in 2011, $6.5 million in 2012, and $7.2 million in 2013.

Since McGahee was due to earn $2.155 million in 2007, the deal is essentially a six-year extension worth $37.965 million.

If the Ravens cut McGahee before the back-end salaries kick in, he will earn a total of $20.42 million over four years.

58
by Craig (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 6:33pm

55: Speaking for those who read this site but aren't well-versed on the metrics, what does good DPAr but average DVOA tell us?

59
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 6:40pm

Jerry P., you're obviously a McGahee hater. I must say I haven't seen enough of him to form an opinion, so I can't exactly disagree with you. But it seems to me that if a RB can perform at an average level when the entire offense around him pretty much sucks, there is a possibility that RB could thrive in a better environment. If not he'll at least be average at a reasonable cost, and that is still an upgrade.

A lot of people thought McNair wouldn't last the season in Baltimore last year, and I shouldn't be surprised that they think the same this year. But Boller was projected by PFP to break out last year and did play well in the two games he was in, so banking on a McNair injury only means that a QB with a good projection will take his place.

60
by JasonK (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 6:46pm

#58:

The shorthand is that DPAR is total value, and DVOA is value per play. So a player with average DVOA and good DPAR is a player whose performance on any given play is merely adequate, but who gets enough carries/passes that he builds up a large total value.

61
by the K (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 6:54pm

The only reason I call this an okay deal for the Bills is otherwise, they get one unhappy year of (probably not much) production and he never resigns anyway. And if they use some picks to trade up I'll probably start calling it a good deal.

62
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 6:59pm

Re #47
A Ravens fan would have a better answer, but I know they've already traded their #4 to the Titans for Steve McNair. Unless they've picked up picks, after this trade, they only have a #1, #2, #5, and #6. A quick check of NFL.com shows no apparent draft acquisitions, so there's not much to re-stock with.

63
by Alex (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 7:05pm

"As a Jets fan, I’m thrilled. McGahee looked like a HOFer every time he took the field against the Jets."

Yeah, but he only looked that way against the Jets. For some reason, he always seemed to have some strange ability to destroy them that he didn't have against other teams. Against the rest of the league, he wasn't really that special.

64
by McGayTrain (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 7:13pm

#55 -- I'm basing my opinion on McGahee's 2004 season on having watched every play of it. A few things about him were amazing back then: (1) incredible speed on sweeps; (2) on those sweeps, esp. going right, he had a stiffarm like no back I can recall; (3) he would drag linebackers several yards, like T. Henry does regularly.

All that ended after 2004. Why that happened is the interesting question.

65
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 7:32pm

re: 47, 62

Don't forget compensatory picks, I don't think they have been anounced yet. The Ravens will probably get 3 (Kemoeatu, Weaver, and Chester Taylor all signed decent contracts) so maybe two 4th rounders and a 5th?

66
by McGayTrain (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 7:39pm

Ah yes, the compensatory pick. Perhaps Buffalo will be compensated for Fletcher and Clements.

How does that work, anyway?

67
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 8:41pm

Re #66
The NFL calculates it based on net free agent losses. The value of the pick depends on how big a contract the player signed, I believe, and maybe also his original draft position. Note that only "true" unrestricted free agents, and not players who become free agents when they're cut by their old team. To use the Ravens as an example, Adalius Thomas should provide a nice compensatory selection, while Edwin Mulitalo can't provide one. Compensatory picks come at the end of the 3rd-7th rounds. Any selections left over after the compensatories are granted to get up to the 255 draft pick total come at the end of the 7th round and the order proceeds like it's the start of the 8th round (OAK, DET, TB, CLE, etc.). And I'm pretty sure you can't trade compensatory selections.

68
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 9:30pm

Also, the comp. picks apply to the previous year, so the Bills won't recieve a pick for Clements until the 2008 draft.

69
by Bionicman (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 9:40pm

What the heck is happening to the people on this website? Unless something is wrong with my eyes, there are people who are happy that a) an unremarkable back is getting $4-6 million a year (approaching Tomlinson territory), and b) laughing at a team for getting three draft picks for a player who was going to be gone anyway? Not to mention, why are people on this website (a big proponent of RB fungibility) so hyped up about a team losing two O-line starters and gaining a new RB? Does 'Steve Hutchinson' ring a bell here?

70
by Rob (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 10:14pm

Agreed with 69, totally. The Ravens got fleeced, not only in the trade (for a totally average, essentially fungible RB) but also in the contract: Chester Taylor, last year: 4 years, around 13.5 million; McGahee, essentially 4 year, around 20 million. McGahee is proven average, and has more injury issues, yet got (roughly) 150% as much money. Part of this is a function of the ridiculous free agent spending among midlevel players (don't tell Pat, though), but this seems excessive. They should have found someone through the draft, or as a UFA. They could've gotten similar performance, for undoubtedly a very small fraction of the cost, freeing up money for less fungible positions.

71
by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 11:11pm

"I’m basing my opinion on McGahee’s 2004 season on having watched every play of it."

I watched every play of it as well. We both know he wasn't heavily involved the first half of the year as Henry was the starter. McGahee getting the starts coincided with what I bet is the best 7 game streak by a defense in the "DVOA era".

I am pulling this from memory but I seem to recall something absurd like 26 drives over that 7 game streak starting in opponents territory due to special teams (T. McGee never got enough credit) and the defense. That's not counting the points those units actually scored. That's offensive drives that start in opponents territory. What offense won't look good when you start almost 4 drives a game in the opponents half of the field?

Reminds me of a great early FO article. The Misunderstood Rams.

Oh yeah. Be sure when you are perusing the old defensive stats to validate everything I am saying to check out Buffalo's weighted defensive DVOA that year. They finished with what is like the 4th best defensive DVOA ever at -28.1% but the weighted DVOA was -36.2%. Best ever.

As a Bills sympathizer, I hope they make good on the draft picks.

72
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 11:22pm

I think this is a pretty decent trade for the Ravens. I agree with the points above that

1. The Bills' line sucks and McGahee is still average behind it
2. Jamal Lewis really sucked

However, I also agree that the contract is too much, even in crazy 2007-inflationy dollars.

73
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 11:29pm

Bills Off Bills Rush McGahee
DVOA DVOA DVOA

2006 -8.6% -11.7% -1.6%

2005 -18.6% -9.1% -0.1%

2004 -5.8% -4.2% 0.5%

74
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 11:56pm

Crap that didn't come out right. Basically, the Bills offense sucks, the Bills rushing offense sucks, and McGahee's production is average, which means that in the right system he could be quite productive.

I don't think anyone is saying that the Bills made a bad deal. McGahee wasn't going to sign with them, so they got two third round picks instead of 1 year of service, which is positive.

The 'running backs are fungible' argument took a big hit when Denver signed Travis Henry to a 5yr. $22mil contract. If I've learned anything from Billy Beane/Moneyball its that what is fungible changes from year to year. Maybe the league was valuing RBs over lineman too much in the past, and now that RB is considered a fungible position, it is actually undervalued. And if RBs are so fungible why did NE and Indy spend first round picks on RBs when they could have just picked up a back later in the draft, etc.?
In case you haven't noticed I really like writing the word 'fungible'.

re: 70
But who are the possible replacements that could equal his production? I really don't think any of the possible alternatives are very good (see 56). And Chester Taylor put up much worse numbers (-10% DVOA) with a better offensive line than McGahee, I don't know why you are making that comparison b/c it doesn't do your argument any favors.

re: 69 The Ravens are really only losing one starter on O-line, Mulitalo played in the first few games and was injured for the year, Jason Brown's arrival into the starting lineup coincided with an improvement in the entire offense. And in case you didn't notice Hutchinson didn't really help Minny's offense at all. If anything the Hutchinson signing showed that signing free agent O-lineman is a bad idea.

75
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 12:04am

FO community people have gone too far with the RBs are fungible thing. Anyone who has watched Kevan Barlow play can tell you that RBs are not fungible when it comes to Barlow's spectacular suckitude. Running games don't appear out of nowhere. You have to invest in them. If you don't, you have to make do with crappy people like Kevan Barlow.

76
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 12:05am

71- That was a great article you posted a link to.

A perfect example would be the Steelers/Falcons game this year where Vick threw 4TD passes. It wasn't that he had some amazing game, but all of those TD passes were either off turnovers or when Atlanta got the ball on the steelers side of the 50.

I think what goes along with that whole concept is special teams. Where a team starts their drives is of paramount importance. Getting a turnover and starting out at the opponents 40 is way different than a drive starting at your own 20 yardline. Obviously, but field position is always so overlooked.

76
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 12:05am

71- That was a great article you posted a link to.

A perfect example would be the Steelers/Falcons game this year where Vick threw 4TD passes. It wasn't that he had some amazing game, but all of those TD passes were either off turnovers or when Atlanta got the ball on the steelers side of the 50.

I think what goes along with that whole concept is special teams. Where a team starts their drives is of paramount importance. Getting a turnover and starting out at the opponents 40 is way different than a drive starting at your own 20 yardline. Obviously, but field position is always so overlooked.

78
by Rob (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 12:20am

ehh. I showed Taylor's contract numbers to show that the contract they signed with McGahee was bad. But, I am starting to change my mind about fungibility of running backs (I also really like writing that word). It's very difficult to tell, really, and there are some great arguments that go for it, and some great ones that go against it. I don't think the argument took a hit when Denver signed Henry; since Denver is a prime example of RB fungibility, having used a UFA last year (Mike Bell) as primary back. I think the Henry contract is largely a result of the insane contracts being doled out to average players, and a big mistake on Denver's part. I think the Ravens could have found a replacement for average production (if that is really what they are going for) with a draft pick. Honestly though, this year, the gap between for instance Kevan Barlow and [the other Jets running back who didn't suck] has changed my mind somewhat.

79
by billsfan (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 12:55am

34:

The Jets can make any opposing RB look good.

80
by jimmo (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 1:53am

Hurray for Bionicman in #69 (genuflect)! I can't believe there is any praise for Baltimore in this one. The picks plus the salary for an injury-prone possibly slightly above average back make it, to me, a total loss for the Ravens. Buffalo's line was poor last year? So was Baltimore's, and Buffalo is adding guys (albeit mostly only OK and overpaid) while Baltimore has lost guys.

I'm sticking with my thought from the Jamal Lewis thread: Buffalo moves up to 6 or 7 if Cleveland passes on Peterson, or failing that, they hold at 12 and go with Lynch. Hell, maybe Peterson is still there if Cleveland passes on him.

81
by JACO (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 2:16am

I'm not sure why everybody thinks McGahee sucks. He is as talented an athlete as they come at running back, and he was stuck on an offense with one of the worst offensive lines in football, and one of the worst quarterbacks. As Rich pointed out, a running back's stats are largely a product of the offensive line. Why do you think everybody always undervalues the Broncos' running backs? Even though they have 1,000 yard rushers coming out of the woodwork every year, it's largely a benefit of playing behind a stellar offensive line and schema.
The contract the Ravens got McGahee to sign (7 years, $40.12 million, including this year) is really a pittance for a top shelf running back these days. Even if he sees all of the money, that's about $5.73 million a year (5.26% of a $109 million salary cap), which is an insane deal. I'm really surprised Rosenhaus accepted that contract, but I think the Ravens come out the winner on that end. For all the talk of running backs being fungible (and therefore not worth as much to some people/teams), you have to admit this is a great deal when someone like Leonard Davis gets a 7 year/$49.6 million deal.
I think both teams come out the winner here. The McGahee/Bills relationship was at a breaking point, and they got decent value in return, when they would have gotten nothing next year. The Ravens give up two third rounders (one of which they'll be recouping next year thanks to the NFL handing them a 3rd round compensatory pick for their offseason losses this year*) and a seventh, so it's not like they're really losing out. They've gotten mediocre production from the running back position the past 2 years, and to solidify it by giving up a couple of unspectacular draft picks has to be the right choice if they're in the middle of a championship contending window, which I believe they are.
*See my follow up post below for more information on compensatory picks

82
by Rob (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 2:20am

Two more arguments:
1) the guy that is so much better than Barlow was a 4TH ROUND ROOKIE (Leon Washington); so good production can be found late in the draft.
2) "And in case you didn’t notice Hutchinson didn’t really help Minny’s offense at all. If anything the Hutchinson signing showed that signing free agent O-lineman is a bad idea."
while the offense did not get better in Minny, ALY and ASR (line stats) got significantly better, from ranks of 31/29 to 14/22. In fact, if anything, this shows that the impact of ONE STUD lineman is impressive. Thus, Baltimore would have been much better off signing, for instance, Eric Steinbach, than wasting money on McGahee.

83
by JACO (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 3:07am

For those of you who had questions about compensatory picks, here is a brief rundown of what you probably need or would like to know.
- A total of up to 32 total draft picks will be awarded to teams each year, based on a formulat developed by the NFL Management Council
- a team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in a year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks.
...Compensatory free agents are determined by a formula based on salary, playing time and postseason honors.

- The compensatory picks are always the last picks of each round 3 through 7, and the highest compensatory draft pick available would be #97 overall (assuming no team forfeits any picks prior to that)
- No team will be awarded more than 4 compensatory picks in any league year
- Teams can can still receive a compensatory pick without suffering a net loss of free agents, based on the NFL's formula weighing salary and performance
- The compensatory draft picks may not be traded

84
by Alex (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 3:34am

"FO community people have gone too far with the RBs are fungible thing. Anyone who has watched Kevan Barlow play can tell you that RBs are not fungible when it comes to Barlow’s spectacular suckitude."

I don't think the idea of RB fungibility is that any RB can be switched with any other regardless of talent differential without affecting team performance. The idea of fungibility is that, if two equally talented RBs, call them RB A and RB B, are on different teams, in completely different offensive systems, the team with RB A can trade him for RB B, and there won't be any significant difference in the performance of either RB. In other words, RBs are not system/team dependent, and don't need a significant amount of time to adjust to a new offensive system before they start contributing. So, in your example, if Kevan Barlow were traded to the Dolphins for Sammy Morris, neither RB would need much time to adjust to the new offensive system. They could both start sucking immediately. ;)

Some positions that are notably not fungible include QB, LB, and NT. So, for instance, even though Jon Kitna and Brett Favre had basically the same DVOA (3.9% and 4.0%) and DPAR (48.1 and 46.0) last year, if the Lions traded Kitna to GB for Favre, it is highly unlikely that either QB would perform as well as they did last year, especially early on, because they would each have to learn a new offense, and their skill sets are very different and require the right system to be utilized effectively. For LBs and NTs, a 3-4, two gap defense and a 4-3, one gap defense require significantly different skills and responsibilities, and players who are excellent as LBs in one system may be relatively ineffective in another system.

All of that said, I think there is some limit to the idea that RBs are fungible. There are certainly some RBs that have a style of running that's more well suited to one offensive system than it is to others. I think the point is just that a RB's job is sufficiently similar across the NFL that differences in a RB's skill set usually have a relatively minor effect compared to other positions.

85
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 4:40am

Rob:
Getting Matt Birk back from injury + signing Hutchinson improved their adjusted line yards from horrible to average, BUT they still were 23rd in rushing DVOA.

Do you really think Steinbach is a stud? I thought the amazing thing about this years OL contracts is that they've been given to such mediocre talents.

I believe as much as anyone that the O-line is at least as important as the running back, but lineman MUST be drafted and developed: UFA OL signings almost always disappoint. RBs on the other hand can change teams (like Alex says) and perform just as well as they always have.

And also I admit that there are diamonds in the rough like Leon Washington in the draft, but you can't count on finding one. Newsome is an awesome evaluator of defensive talent, but not all his offensive selections pan out. I would be pretty nervous to hand off the ball 300 times (which is what they need in Balto) to some guy who has potential but is unproven.

re: 80
I wouldn't call McGahee injury-prone. He's had one significant injury 5 years ago, and since then he's played in 34 out 36 possible games.
and Baltimore's line was/is much better than Buffalo's.

86
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 4:42am

Re: 83
You forgot a few things.
- Compensatory picks are BS doled out to the league in order to allow better teams to jump in draft order for free.

Just looking at the 2005 NFL draft: Dominique Foxworth to Cleveland. Nick Kaczur to Arizona or Seattle. Leroy Hill to Green Bay. I'm convinced it completely screws a couple teams with better draft position.

Why does the NFL reward teams for their own business decisions? If they don't want to pay to sign/re-sign high $$$ free agents, tough nuts. I don't like how the NFL can make these types of judgements on performance. It's not like a team forfeits a roster spot because they lose a free agent.

The compensation is they get salary cap relief... why does the NFL think they should deserve extra draft picks, especially 3, 4, and 5 rounders? I'd prefer if they gave out 6th and 7th to the heart's delight, but as demonstrated by this McGahee trade... I don't think any team should be rewarded anything above a 5th rounder this year.

Nonetheless you know the Eagles, Colts and Pats will get a ton... a nice way of the NFL showing some "winners bias". I really do think teams that make it to the playoffs should be exempt from receiving compensatory picks... if they don't scrap it all together.

But there's money for agents and players to get "drafted" even though they never would get drafted in a true 7 by 32 draft.

Yeah, this has been on my chest for awhile.

If I were the NFL I'd also make the NFL draft a bidder's draft. Teams get "chips" based on their won/lost record... and then when it's time for the first pick there's a 10 minute bidding session followed by a 5 minute picking session. It would be a nice way of avoiding the "loser's curse" and also would help teams leverage against agents using draft position. "Well, your player was only worth 10,000 chips, whereas last years #1 was worth 15,000 chips."

I think some fantasy football leagues do this, but it would make draft-day way more interesting... and when teams are out of money, everyone becomes a UDFA.

87
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 5:02am

By "money" I meant chips... and obviously this system is way more complicated than anything the NFL could set up and it's GMs could execute.

I can dream about a ficticious league competing against the NFL however.

88
by Ron (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 5:58am

78 - RBs are not fungible. Their talent matters considerably to a running game's production. Consider the Broncos' relatively lackluster running game in '06 and here's what I saw of watching about 90% of the games. Mike Bell just isn't explosive enough to be a big-time back--slow hitting the hole, no breakaway speed in the open field. In short, his big plays were limited to 20- and 40-yd gains when a faster player would have turned them into TDs, not a good thing to pair with a questionable passing offense. While fast, Tatum has an uncanny propensity to take negative plays (due to the fact that he often trips over his own feet or slips in the backfield) and fumble. While he has great speed, he doesn't make anybody miss, nor is he very powerful. He is, in essence, a home-run hitter who can from anywhere on the field if the OL gives him a hole. These are things that common cannot uncover, but it became obvious that faster and more consistent, powerful backs were needed to return the vaunted Denver running game to class status. Hence, the changes in the backfield.

89
by Ron (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 5:59am

78 - RBs are not fungible. Their talent matters considerably to a running game's production. Consider the Broncos' relatively lackluster running game in '06 and here's what I saw of watching about 90% of the games. Mike Bell just isn't explosive enough to be a big-time back--slow hitting the hole, no breakaway speed in the open field. In short, his big plays were limited to 20- and 40-yd gains when a faster player would have turned them into TDs, not a good thing to pair with a questionable passing offense. While fast, Tatum Bell has an uncanny propensity to take negative plays (due to the fact that he often trips over his own feet or slips in the backfield) and fumble. While he has great speed, he doesn't make anybody miss, nor is he very powerful. He is, in essence, a home-run hitter who can score from anywhere on the field if the OL gives him a hole. These are things that common stats cannot uncover, but it became obvious that faster and more consistent, powerful backs were needed to return the vaunted Denver running game to class status. Hence, the changes in the backfield.

90
by Israel (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 8:45am

Adam Schefter writes: Baltimore cut eight-year veteran guard Edwin Mulitalo and designated him a post-June 1 salary-cap casualty, meaning it will take only a partial salary-cap hit now and a bigger one in 2008 before he is off its books.

Is this some kind of new trick where they take a day in March and call it "June 1?"

91
by mikeabbott (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 9:56am

Re: 87 MFurtek
I think that is a great idea. 32 sealed bids most draft points given up gets the player in that bid,no information is revealed about the other 31 bids except the obvious fact they were lower (or tied - current draft order breaks ties) than the winner, do that 224 times. It would be fascinating to watch! Also the bids would establish a better basis for rookie salarys than the current slot system because the points spent could skew early or late depending on the perceived distribution of talent. It would help losing franchises more because they could avoid getting trapped into overpaying by slot and they could use their extra draft points later or earlier as best fits their needs.
It would be more flexible for teams trying to meet specific needs so it might lead to better play league wide.
But mostly it would be fun to watch.

92
by jimmo (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 10:30am

jonnyblazin, you're going to have to justify your belief that Baltimore's line is/was so much better than Buffalo's. 2006 Conventional numbers put Baltimore 31st w/3.4 ypc, Buffalo 27th with 3.7. FO puts their RB ypc at 3.78 & 3.74 respectively.
Baltimore ranks higher than Buffalo in ALY, but still only 19th. Buffalo was better in the Power and Stuffs departments, and they're = in 10+ which is more on the backs anyway. In short, both were largely mediocre in the run game last year.

FA signings don't often work out, agreed, but Buffalo did bring in the left guard from the team that ranked 5th & 7th in runs to LT and Mid/guard last year while Baltimore lost a starting tackle. I'll concede an edge to the Ravens in that the guys they're counting on this year are ones they've developed the last couple of years.

Again, I don't see a significant reason to call Baltimore's line "much better" than Buffalo's.
As to McGahee being injury prone, that may be too strong. I sure would be leery of giving that kind of cash to a guy that suffered a major knee injury and missed all or part of three games in his most recent season, after coming off his first 300+ carry season.

93
by dryheat (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 10:35am

The ‘running backs are fungible’ argument took a big hit when Denver signed Travis Henry to a 5yr. $22mil contract. If I’ve learned anything from Billy Beane/Moneyball its that what is fungible changes from year to year. Maybe the league was valuing RBs over lineman too much in the past, and now that RB is considered a fungible position, it is actually undervalued. And if RBs are so fungible why did NE and Indy spend first round picks on RBs when they could have just picked up a back later in the draft, etc.?

This is a great point that I've felt, but never could express so eloquently. Successful teams are copied. The most obvious example is the 3-4 defense, with the Ravens, Steelers, and Patriots winning five recent Super Bowls using it and making two other conference championships. So not only do other teams seek to emulate, quite often they filch coaches from these teams to execute it. So while in the past a 3-4 OLB could be found late in the draft or through mid-level free agency, now it's much more competitive to draft/sign them.

Shanahan has a long run of success using many running backs behind an undersized agile zone-blocking O-line. Other teams see this, and place less of an emphasis on a premium running back. Thus the market softens, and good running backs become undervalued.

It's all cyclical. I think the next pattern you see will be the waxing and subsequent waning of the tight end market, due to the number of large athletic freaks entering the NFL and a trend towards using two tight ends on the field.

94
by dryheat (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 10:49am

#90 --

Yes, I think the change was made so that players who were going to be cut could take advantage of the early FA market. It's really a win-win situation for the teams and players. The players get in on a crazy market, and the teams can create cap room earlier.

94
by dryheat (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 10:49am

#90 --

Yes, I think the change was made so that players who were going to be cut could take advantage of the early FA market. It's really a win-win situation for the teams and players. The players get in on a crazy market, and the teams can create cap room earlier.

96
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 11:06am

Dryheat- I think your right about tight ends possibly being "the next".

I like the talk on running back fungibility and agree that it doesn't mean you can put "anybody" behind the line, but a similar skilled player. You don't substitute Derrick Ward for Tiki Barber and expect the same results because you have the same line, but a guy like Portis behind the same line should have similar results.

What kind of compensitory pick do you guys think the Colts will get for Edge? The interesting part is that the Colts did just fine without him.

Do you think teams take compensation picks into consideration when deciding to resign somebody or not? If your 50/50 on overpaying a key guy to your team, the fact that you will likley get a good pick for NOT resigning him could be the straw that breaks the camels back.

97
by mactbone (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 11:09am

Re 85:
The only lineman that the Bears drafted is Olin Kreutz. Every other starter was a FA signing. The key isn't drafting (although that helps) the key is continuity. Miller missed one game with a broken jaw last year and Tait missed the meaningless games this past year - those were the only O-Line injuries for the Bears in the past two years.

Re 90:
Yeah, it's a new rule, PFT's talked about it a few times, and I'm not clear on the details but the gist is that guys can be cut at the start of the new leauge year and have the cap split over two years like June 1 cuts did before.

Re RB Fungibility:
Wait, everyone forgot about Edgerrin James already? Most RBs are average and can give you similar production to each other. There are some elite RBs, but the drop-off from their production to average usually does not justify the cost. Really, the fungibility argument comes not from Denver but from the argument that RBs are paid more than they're worth relative to the differences in their production. There are some good RBs, there are some not so good, but the difference to the team's production is negligible.

98
by McGaytrain (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 11:11am

#92 - Thank you for providing the stats I so did not feel like digging up.

My comments on McGahee, however, were not based on statistics. I simply remember being awed by McGahee's abilities several years ago. True, Henry played much of the first 4-5 games of 2004, but it wasn't McGahee's durability that used to be so special, it was his speed AND power. He was not tentative.

I don't see the relevance of field position (i.e. special teams and defense) on his actual running ability. If the argument had something to do with touchdowns scored, I concede, but that was never my point. Maybe someone would care to enlighten me.

To move on, who will Buffalo get to play RB 1 and 2? And if anyone says Shaud Williams, the McGayTrain will leave the station, never to return.

I say they resign A. Thomas OR Dillon to play "Bettis" and draft someone fast early on.

99
by dryheat (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 11:19am

Do you think teams take compensation picks into consideration when deciding to resign somebody or not?

Absolutely. Take the Daniel Graham scenario. Going into last year, many Pats fans I know wanted to trade him, since the alternative was losing him for nothing if he wouldn't re-sign. They could have traded him for maybe a fourth round pick last season. So the possible scenarios were:

1) Have no Graham and a fourth round pick in the 2007 draft.

2) Have Graham contribute for another year, let him leave, and get maybe a fifth round pick in the 2008 draft as compensation (won't happen in hindsight due to the Thomas signing).

My favorite feature of comp picks is that they prevent good players in the last year of their contract from being traded every season for fear of getting "nothing in return" a la MLB and NHL.

100
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 11:58am

But do you remember before last year when the media was saying " The Colts are screwed as Edge James packed up his 2000 yards of offense and took it to the desert".

101
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 12:09pm

#86: There are only 32 comp picks, and only maybe 1 or 2 of them will be a 3rd rounder, and that'll probably go to the Bills for Clements.

The compensation is they get salary cap relief… why does the NFL think they should deserve extra draft picks, especially 3, 4, and 5 rounders?

You don't get salary cap relief for not signing someone.

Honestly, all that would happen if the NFL got rid of compensatory picks is that trades would likely happen a little more often.

Nonetheless you know the Eagles, Colts and Pats will get a ton… a nice way of the NFL showing some “winners bias�.

It's just math, nothing more. I highly doubt the Patriots will get any next year. The Eagles will get a ton, but they've barely done anything in free agency this year.

I'm surprised you're so against comp picks - comp picks prevent teams tend to promote player movement because teams are a little more willing to let players go. For a team like the Redskins that relies on free agents so much, it allows them to sign them for less.

102
by Rob (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 12:22pm

"Getting Matt Birk back from injury + signing Hutchinson improved their adjusted line yards from horrible to average, BUT they still were 23rd in rushing DVOA."
Agreed, but the idea of the line stats is to take into account the relative contribution of the line. The low DVOA I think can be explained by zero threat of passing beyond 10 yards from B. Johnson through much of the year.
"Do you really think Steinbach is a stud? I thought the amazing thing about this years OL contracts is that they’ve been given to such mediocre talents."
No, and he's certainly not Hutchinson caliber, but he would help, and I think he would help more than a decent at best RB.
"And also I admit that there are diamonds in the rough like Leon Washington in the draft, but you can’t count on finding one."
It's not just Leon Washington. Surely you noticed that last there was a rash of AWESOME running backs. Addai, Maroney, MJD, Bush, and lots of lesser recognized (and lower drafted) rooks like Jerious Norwood and Leon Washington. Add also Mike Bell as a UFA. Thus, there should be plenty of talent available without having to sign a mediocre player to a contract 150% of a similar player's contract last year.

103
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 12:37pm

100.

The convential media are idiots. That shouldnt be used as justification for anything.

104
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 12:38pm

I wouldn't have a problem if they were given out in the 6th and 7th rounds, or maybe the 5th. (We had this discussion last year too).

It just doesn't seem right sometimes. Let's say you are Oakland, sitting on top of the 4th round. You covet a player, and then the Colts have a comp pick, and they end up picking that player at the end of the 3rd. Doesn't really seem fair.

It seems like it rewards teams that draft and develop well. Since these teams normally have better records anyway, it seems like it's a self-propogating reward. You know, give the Patriots 2 more draft picks and they have a better shot at hitting gold... and then further down the line they have those talented comp pick players on ther team... and they leave for a big contract... and it begets more comp picks.

Shouldn't past comp picks factor in at all? Like "they had 2 in 2003, so of course they might end up with more players they can't sign."

If Indy gets higher than a 5th for losing Edge, it would further expose the sham. "James was let go, and we won the Super Bowl." "James was signed, and Arizona did the same thing they do every year." Certainly not worth a 3rd or 4th, but hey... I bet they get more than that.

Bottom line. The Colts didn't lose anything by letting Edge walk. How can they be compensated for that lost performance? Now if the Raiders lost a big money FA and ended up there, I can see how they would need a comp pick.

105
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 12:54pm

104.

Why should teams that do a poor job developing talent be rewarded?

Do we really want to damn more players to rot in detroit?

106
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 12:59pm

"RBs are not fungible. Their talent matters considerably to a running game’s production. Consider the Broncos’ relatively lackluster running game in ‘06 and here’s what I saw of watching about 90% of the games."

Need I bring up Samkon Gado, Willie Parker, Priest Holmes, etc, and the huge amount of undrafted/6th and 7th round guys who have had considerable success playing RB in the NFL.

Simply put, the talent needed to play RB at an NFL level isnt nearly as rare as most other positions. No, you can't just throw anyone in there, but it isnt all that hard to find someone that will work.

107
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 1:06pm

Re: Rich Conley
Teams should neither be rewarded or punished for how well they draft and develop players, how they manage the salary cap, and how much other teams are bidding on that player.

If teams want to be compensated for player development, do that when he is a restricted free agent. There also is the franchise tag (not sure if transition still exists). Isn't their reward getting at least a years service, and possibly more for a bargain price? Congratulations, you did a great job in eyeing late round talent. I don't think comp picks help drive player movement at all.

I'd rather see teams do what the Bills did, or see teams trade RFAs more. If the NFL gave teams "compensatory cap space", there would be outrage.

Teams can always re-sign players if they want them to stay. That's why deals are worked out before the player hits the free agent market. There are so many tools to get compensation, even sign-and-trades... that it just makes the NFL more lame for giving out draft picks like this.

108
by James, London (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 1:10pm

Matt,

Anyone else think a Redskins fan getting bitter over draft picks is funny?

109
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 1:28pm

James,
I'm trying to make a point... and I really haven't seen much to make me change my mind.

Ability to re-sign free agent is different than desire to re-sign free agent. Teams should only be comp'd if they don't have the ability to re-sign a free agent. Then again, that's a function of how they manage the cap, etc... which is my primary point against compensatory picks.

110
by mmm... sacrilicious (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 1:41pm

The Seahawks just signed Deon Grant to the richest deal ever for a safety. In fact, if you roll your mouse across the headline on ESPN, it says he signed a 6 year deal in excess of $30 million a year [sic].

D'oh!

111
by Reinhard (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 1:50pm

Maybe a better way of saying 'RBs are fungible' is to say that there are no bad runningbacks in the NFL. That doesn't mean that you can't have a great runningback

112
by CA (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 1:51pm

Ah, the backlash against running back fungibility begins. I know we all want to be ahead of the curve, but I submit that those who are saying that running backs are no longer overvalued in fact never caught up to the curve. When exactly was this period in which running backs were undervalued? Was it when aging and overused players like Shaun Alexander, Edgerrin James, and Corey Dillon were signing huge contracts only to under-perform them massively? Was it when the Redskins were trading the best defensive back in the league and a second round pick to obtain and sign to a monster deal Clinton Portis, whose productivity turned out to be roughly equal to that of Ladell Betts? Was it when teams spent top five draft picks, and the huge sums of money that go with them, on Ronnie Brown, Cedric Benson, and Cadillac Williams, all of whom have put up so-so production at best in their first two years? During this off-season, we have seen teams pay handsomely mediocre running backs like Travis Henry and Willis McGahee (and don't forget Ahman Green and Jamal Lewis). The notion that those signings somehow indicate that we are seeing a market correction to a past undervaluing of running backs is not credible. In actuality, we are seeing that the problem of running back overvaluation continues and perhaps is getting worse.

113
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 1:51pm

"Isn’t their reward getting at least a years service, and possibly more for a bargain price?"

We've discussed this at length. Franchised players almost always make more cash than players at the same position who aren't franchised.

114
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 2:12pm

It just doesn’t seem right sometimes. Let’s say you are Oakland, sitting on top of the 4th round. You covet a player, and then the Colts have a comp pick, and they end up picking that player at the end of the 3rd. Doesn’t really seem fair.

The chance of a comp pick being a 3rd round pick is very small, and Indy won't get it. San Diego will.

Comp picks also can't be traded. Others can. It's easy for Oakland to move up ahead of the Colts, whereas the Colts can't move up ahead of Oakland.

If Indy gets higher than a 5th for losing Edge, it would further expose the sham.

It's not because they lost James. It's because they lost a lot more free agents than they resigned.

The "sham" portion is that Arizona overpaid for James, but that's not Indy's fault, nor is it the fault of the system.

Teams should only be comp’d if they don’t have the ability to re-sign a free agent.

How would you determine that? You're determining it a posteriori by judging which team improved, but that's entirely artificial. Had Indy declined (due to say, an injury on the offensive line), and Arizona improved (well, they actually did by the end of the year), your "sham" argument wouldn't've held water.

And oddly enough, if you look at the team who's likely to get the top comp pick (San Diego), the team who did receive that free agent (Brees) did improve, significantly. San Diego didn't decline statistically, but Rivers wasn't that great in the playoffs. With Brees, they might've won that game.

115
by James, London (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 2:20pm

#109,

Sorry. It's a slow Friday afternoon at work. That was a cheap shot, and I apologise.

Besides, what would the 'Skins do with draft picks they couldn't trade? :)

116
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 2:45pm

Rich Conley, your a good guy. CA, I think I enjoy reading your posts the most.

To throw in another wrinkle, when the Colts lost Edge they lost a good running back. That doesn't mean they didn't replace him, it simply means they lost a good player. Now they used what they had and also a 1st round pick to "replace" him.

If Edge had resigned the opportunity cost is what else they would have used that late first round pick on ( say a linebacker).

117
by Stiller Fan in Cleveland (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 2:50pm

I think the best way to compensate player development would be to subtract 1 % of the cap hit for each year a player drafted by that team has him, or every year after a 3rd year with a team.

So if you draft good players and sign them to 4 year contracts, only 96% of the contract value counts against the cap. Obviously, the specific numbers can be tweaked, but the general idea should hold.

I like the idea of compensatory picks, but I feel that choosing to let a player walk is different from being constrained by the cap to let him walk.

Finally, if you use the franchise tag, you should lose all compensatory picks that year.

118
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 3:03pm

"but I feel that choosing to let a player walk is different from being constrained by the cap to let him walk."

Every time a team makes a personell decision, they are being constrained by the cap.

Do you think Indy let Edge walk because of any reason other than cap impact?

119
by mactbone (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 3:21pm

Re Compensatory Picks:
If a player can't be signed because of the cap (and that's why most players aren't signed) then that means that the cap space is being used on some player they find more valuable. Why exactly should any teams get extra picks based on player movement? If a team loses players to FA and they don't have enough picks to cover for the losses, then they can just get some Rookie FAs at the minimum - with fewer picks there might be better ones out there anyway.

120
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 4:55pm

Every signing has to deal with the Cap.

Even if a team has cap room, that doesn't mean they will want to overpay a players market value.

For example, Team X has 30 mil in cap room left but feels that "the player" is worth 1 million bucks. The player goes on to team Y and gets signed for 2 million.

Team X certainly could have signed the guy ( and had 28 mil left), but didn't want to overpay. If you over pay for one player, other players will want to be over paid when their contracts expire. If you keep over paying for guys, eventually you ARE cap constrained.

Another example. A snickers bar costs 1 dollar. Now every football outsiders reader can buy a snickers bar for 20 bucks, but that doesn't mean you SHOULD because you could.

121
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 5:08pm

re: 92 jimmo

BAL was 1st in adjusted sack rate, BUF was 29th. Its really not that outrageous to say that BAL has a better O-line, because lines have to pass block too. And in terms of run blocking, its simple: BUF had bad ALY but an average RB1 DVOA, and BAL had an average ALY and bad RB1 DVOA. Therefore McGahee outperformed his line, while J. Lewis underperformed his.

re: 102 Rob

Last years RB class was pretty awesome, but I'm not sure this this year's is as strong. Even though you made plenty of good examples of successful later round RBs, I'm guessing that the percentage of late round RBs who turn out to be good RBs is pretty low. Ozzie probably thought he wouldn't be able to find a player like that in the draft and thus made the trade. It is certainly its possible that some RB drafted late will be a stud, but its more likely that the player won't contribute much at all.

122
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 5:20pm

re: 112 CA

OK, maybe I jumped the gun regarding reversing the fungibility of RBs. But some people seem to think that investing any money whatsoever into the RB position is a huge mistake, and that every team should just assemble a RB committee from 7th round picks and undrafted players. The fact that Denver, the team that most people cite as an example of how little teams have to invest in RBs to have success, signed Travis Henry to a nice contract to me shows that splurging on the RB position is viable provided other teams don't drive up the price too much (the player is slightly undervalued).

123
by JasonK (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 5:47pm

In other NFL RB trade news, Sirius radio is reporting that the Browns have traded Reuben Droughns to the Giants in exchange for WR Tim Carter. Straight player-for-player, no draft picks involved.

124
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 6:39pm

I think Tim Carter is in the second year of a 2 year deal.

So would the Giants play Droughns about 50/50 with Jacobs with Jacobs getting all of the Goalline carries? I think they would still potentially go after a shiftier RB in the later rounds maybe Lorenzo Booker?

125
by Omar (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 6:59pm

Cowboys resign Columbo

126
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 7:12pm

"he fact that Denver, the team that most people cite as an example of how little teams have to invest in RBs to have success, signed Travis Henry to a nice contract to me shows that splurging on the RB position is viable provided other teams don’t drive up the price too much (the player is slightly undervalued)."

Not necessarilly. It may be that cap space is overvalued this year. Most of these contracts seem to have extremely high cap numbers at the end, where the player will be cut.

IE Denver may be paying Travis Henry big money because they have nothing else to spend money on. They need a RB, and theyre overpaying for one because the fact that theyre overpaying isnt goign to hurt them. Henry may be a better blitz pick up guy then Bell.

I'm completely convinced that RB running ability is completely fungible. Blitze pickup and passblocking on the other hand, are a lot harder to judge.

127
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 7:13pm

I think the best way to compensate player development would be to subtract 1 % of the cap hit for each year a player drafted by that team has him, or every year after a 3rd year with a team.

Why would the NFL players want to promote player retention? They want to promote player movement.

128
by thad (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 9:08pm

Why would the NFL players want to promote player retention? They want to promote player movement.

Pat, you lost me?
Why is that true?

129
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 9:30pm

The more NFL players move around, the larger the market is. Ever since its founding, the NFLPA has always pushed to try to encourage players to hit free agency more often.

130
by Gus (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 9:48pm

128: Pat has an annoying tendency of never being wrong. He's kind of like Jesus, only he apparently went to Penn State.

But seriously, dead on about the retention/movement issue. With the money being tossed around this off-season, the NFLPA has got to be pretty damn happy.

131
by Rob (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 10:18pm

Often Pat is right, but not this time.
"The more NFL players move around, the larger the market is."
This is not the case; the market size is not dependent on how many CHANGE teams, it is dependent upon how many HAVE THE ABILITY to change teams (for instance, SD G Dielman was on the market, even though he didn't change teams). Since the proposed change does not affect any player's ability to change teams so long as it didn't apply to tags, (it only offers the previous team a better bargain for retention) the market stays the same, and everything is hunky-dory. I think the players would love it; I have seen a lot of players take pay cuts to stay with their teams, or to stay with good teams. This would allow the original team to offer better bargains while preserving cap space, and thus the good players would be able to get better money while staying with their teams. Also, I think it's a bad idea, totally destroying parity (depending on the value; if it was only 1% it wouldn't have any effect).

132
by thad (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 10:18pm

Pat, now that I reread my question it was really stupid.
I thought, and this was the stupid part, that you just said NFL.... not players.
but thanks

133
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 10:56pm

I still fail to see the logic that compensatory picks encourage player movement.

It's the salary cap, player performance, and free agency that does this.

Substitute "compensatory salary cap" instead of "compensatory picks", and it's more clear the NFL should have no business doling out draft picks like that.

Teams don't even get these draft picks until the year AFTER they lose players.

134
by thad (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 10:56pm

Chris,
this is stephen yang

#

daunte culpepper is so much better than brooks. its not even funny anymore. why are people comparing them? they should be comparing culpepper to either

a) Donovan Mcnabb (who is worse than culpepper)

b) Trent Green (who is about the same as culpepper.

aaron brooks is horrible compared to culpepper. he has never had a rating higher than 90.0, he has never had a completion percentage rate higher than 60 percent.

he had two seasons with decent yardage (3832, 3810 ) but he had 22 and 16 interceptions so he was probably just throwing it deep over and over again.

aaron brooks is even a worser rusher, averaging only around 250 yards a season with 2 tds.

culpepper is WAAAAY better than Aaron Brooks. but in all fairness to brooks, i mean WHOS HE GOING TO THROW TO IN NEW ORELANS?? i think he will do MUCH better in oakland with randy moss and jerry porter, and his legs should give him time to find the open receiver.

next, daunte culpepper is already passing and jogging so he wont be slowed down that much during the season. next season he should probably be rushing as much as he has in the past (unless of course there is another injury.)

:: Stephen Yang — 6/28/2006 @ 12:46 am

You can read the whole thread
Its really really funny
Its from june 21st of last year.
14 pages back.
He loved CAPS
loved telling us how much he knew
loved argueing.
Pat just started going after him relentlessly(and with good reason!)
He is a very good template for who you DON'T want to be here.

135
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 11:49pm

#131: Teams have a tendency to resign with their same team before free agency (because only their own team can negotiate beforehand). Compensatory picks give a disincentive for their own team to resign them.

Resigning with your own team tends to happen at smaller values (it's the convenience factor), so player movement encourages larger contracts.

have seen a lot of players take pay cuts to stay with their teams

Everyone resigns with their own team if the money value is even close to what they're being offered elsewhere, unless they're pissed at the team. It's mainly practical considerations.

#133: They all do it.

136
by Rob (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 12:05am

135:
I still don't see how my point changes. The market size, determined either by number of players on the market or by total salary cap space, changes NOT AT ALL because of compensatory picks. You say that moving players around encourages larger contracts, but for any given player, they are given the choice of staying with the team and accepting the small contract, or moving around and getting the larger contract. The key point is that it's up to them, and one player's decision to stay has no effect on the next player's ability to move on and get a large contract. After all, if Player A stays and leaves $1 million on the table, that extra $1 million just gets spent on incoming Player B. Likewise, if Player A moves on to another team and gets a huge contract, player B necessarily gets whatever is left over. Because of the salary cap/floor structure that's already in place, the amount of money which goes to the players (as a whole) stays relatively the same. Thus, why would the players organization have any interest in comp picks, or the alternative system someone else suggested above?

137
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 12:07am

You say that moving players around encourages larger contracts, but for any given player, they are given the choice of staying with the team and accepting the small contract, or moving around and getting the larger contract.

I think you're missing the point - the compensatory picks increase the likelihood that the player's original team won't offer them a contract at all.

It's part of the reason why the Eagles didn't even try to sign Garcia this year, I'm sure.

138
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 12:10am

Because of the salary cap/floor structure that’s already in place, the amount of money which goes to the players (as a whole) stays relatively the same.

Ah, okay. That's where your argument's coming from.

Yeah, that's only partly true. Players moving around keeps most teams slightly over the cap most years (obviously, below it with prorations). If you look at the total money teams put out, teams that sign free agents continually spend more than those who don't.

139
by Rob (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 12:22am

137:
Compensatory picks are so difficult to forecast, small, and worthless, that I can't see any team willfully giving up FAs in order to get them. Are you saying that if Garcia offered to sign for the vet minimum the Eagles would have turned him down? How do they know they're going to get a comp pick? How many times does this happen league-wide? Besides, what are they going to get for Garcia, a 7th? Also, did you talk to the Eagles about their decision not to extend him an offer?
Honestly, I'm not sure what you are saying; that compensatory picks encourage player movement--? Even if they did, why would the NFLPA have a stake in this particular player movement?

140
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 12:41am

How do they know they’re going to get a comp pick?

I think it's safe to say that most teams have an idea what the market value for a player is, and comp picks are just determined by the salary cap and the value that the player signs for.

I doubt the Eagles knew which one they'd get, but I'm pretty sure they knew that Garcia would net them one.

Are you saying that if Garcia offered to sign for the vet minimum the Eagles would have turned him down?

No, but I'm also sure that Garcia wouldn't've offered to sign for the vet minimum.

141
by Joe Smith (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 12:52am

Can any idiot post on here?

142
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 12:58am

Pat,
You and the Eagles prove the point that NFL compensatory picks are lame. You honestly believe that if compensatory picks didn't exist, they would've signed Jeff Garcia?

My main problem with compensatory picks is that teams don't re-sign players most of the time because they use a budget and don't want to overpay. So why do they deserve a compensatory pick for that?

I really doubt compensatory picks had anything to do with Garcia getting more money from Tampa Bay.

The same thing with Brees last year. New Orleans chose to let him walk so they could save cap room, which they used to sign Gates long-term, will use for LDT, and used for Diehlman this year. If they had signed Brees, Gates and/or Diehlman would've walked. So what's so noble they should receive a draft pick.

Your argument posts back about Oakland being able to jump ahead of Indy ignored the point I was making. Why should the Raiders have to trade up if they want to have pick #97? Just because the NFL arbitrarily decides some other team deserves compensation for making a decision they did as part of normal business procedure?

Losing a free agent has zero to do with expecting future compensatory picks in nexts years draft, and everything to do with market and salary cap strategy. Free agents from good teams are also artificially overrated as well... which only helps those good teams roll up these bogus picks.

It's been like 40 posts into this discussion and I'd really like to see persaude me with an argument that compensatory picks make sense in this age of the salary cap. The NFL uses these picks to allow the rich to get richer. Nick Kazur and Dominique Foxworth are prime examples... Seattle, Denver, Indy, New England and Philly have probably been rewarded the most comp picks in the past... (and maybe Baltimore?). It's no surprise they can keep the talent coming in when given something like 5 or 6 extra draft picks over a 3 year period.

If the NFL started to give teams like the Redskins, Texans, Broncos, Cowboys, etc a reward for using all their cap space, "compensatory cap space" you'd see similar out-rage.

I'd like the league to stop arbitrarily rewarding good clubs, and screwing bad clubs. It's not just that the good clubs get extra draft picks, but they leapfrog all the bad clubs in the preceding round.

Am I just taking crazy and stupid pills here?

143
by Rob (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 1:13am

No, Furtek, I agree. The only function of compensatory picks is to decrease parity. Perhaps it is simply a (minor) political sacrifice to placate the richer, better teams in the league, but it hurts the NFL in the long term.

144
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 1:15am

If the NFL started to give teams like the Redskins, Texans, Broncos, Cowboys, etc a reward for using all their cap space,

The majority of teams in the NFL use all of their cap space. Including Philadelphia.

Losing a free agent has zero to do with expecting future compensatory picks in nexts years draft, and everything to do with market and salary cap strategy.

Yeah, we'll just have to disagree there. To most NFL teams, lots of players are basically arbitrarily replaceable. Letting a player go and replacing them via the draft, knowing you're going to get another draft pick in the future, is incentive.

You and the Eagles prove the point that NFL compensatory picks are lame.

I wasn't aware that I had any effect on NFL teams. Little did I know I was so powerful!

Seriously, you're welcome to your opinions, but c'mon, try to keep it civil? And don't associate me with my team of choice. I have opinions independent of my favorite team.

Free agents from good teams are also artificially overrated as well… which only helps those good teams roll up these bogus picks.

Artificially overrated? As opposed to naturally overrated? I don't really agree there. They might be overrated by poor scouting front offices. But it's difficult to say "compensatory picks are hurting the teams with bad scouting front offices!"

145
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 1:17am

Besides... weren't you railing last year that draft picks were overrated as a whole?

146
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 1:18am

What did Philly do to deserve compensation for Garcia? Took someone that sucked in Detroit and Cleveland, someone that no one wanted... provided him with a scheme where he succeeded, and then let him walk.

Does that really deserve a draft pick?

147
by Rob (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 1:27am

It's not really a question of 'deserve,' in my mind--that has all sorts of moral connections that aren't really relevant to what is essentially a business decision. It's a question of what is the EFFECT of compensatory draft picks; the effect is clear: they reward good teams. Rewarding good teams by giving them more resources=less parity. Less parity=less games being close. Less games being close=a less watchable product.

148
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 1:33am

Sorry, I didn't mean to be personal. I think money provides enough incentive for player movement. No matter what a good team does, there are probably 10 teams that think good teams players are somehow better due to scheme or teamates or something else. SF signing Michael Lewis is a great example this year. Jeff Garcia and Drew Brees last year.

It's not really anything the Eagles, Patriots, Colts, or other teams do... it's just I think the league acts poorly by doling out compensatory picks. This year I really looked and saw how much it screwed a couple of teams by allowing better teams to leap them between the 3rd, 4th, 5th rounds. It kind've defeats the purpose of the draft if you allow teams to leapfrog regardless of rounds.

Teams losing free agents will make the business decision not to add an overpaid salary to their cap regardless of getting compensation. Maybe compensatory picks provide a little incentive, like 10% but I think it's 90% the fact that some other team is willing to pay the free agent more.

I don't think the league should reward teams for their normal business making decisions.

Sorry for crossing the line on the Internet, I just think you're more than prooving my point by using Jeff Garcia in your arguments. Although it's kind've like when I watch some official get a call wrong and I'll fight it to the death and go on for 50 posts about it when everyone just wants me to shut up about it.... (or rant in the IRC channel about it... Fnor).

149
by coldbikemessenger (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 1:35am

Re 146
Yes it does I think
And how much does it really matter
Given how many of these draft picks have existed
How many good players have been taken
What is the success rate
I am guessing very few, percentage wise
But I really don't know

150
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 1:44am

Here are some recent examples. I'm going to skip 2006 'cause it is too early to tell.

2005, 3rd round: Dominique Foxworth to Denver, Leroy Hill to Seattle, Nick Kaczur to New England.

Consider Cleveland, Miami, Tampa Bay, and Green Bay missed out on the chance to draft any of these guys due to being leapfrogged.

2005, 4th Round. Matt Giordano to Indianapolis, Roydell Williams to Tennesee.

I have less of a problem with a sucky Tennesee team getting an extra pick... but I think Giordano contributed a bit to Indy.

2005, 5th round. No one that has blossmed yet.

2004, no one really blossomed from 3rd, 4th and 5th rounds.

2003, Mughelli goes to Ravens in 4th round, and they draft Pashos in the 4th.

I didn't realize Compensatory Picks didn't start until 2002. It's a pretty weak case if you look at the names, but if you project the oppurtunity and margin for error, it probably helps to some extent.

151
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 1:51am

... and maybe James is right. I'm bitter over draft picks because I'm a Redskin fan. No offense taken.

Looking at it the success rate is not that great, but then again it's the potential for success that irks me more. And the fact that 90% of the decisions would be made regardless of compensatory picks.

By the time a player hits the FA market, for all intents and purposes he's gone...

I also think it's weird that a team could lose a UDFA during RFA period, and they would get nothing in compensation. Then he plays out of his mind, and walks as a FA, and the team could get a 3rd-5th pick.

I'm not even sure if the new CBA continues with giving out compensatory picks.

152
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 2:01am

To play devil's advocate with each 2004 draft pick (having the team make best selection rather than what happened).

Cincy gets Shaun Phillips from the Chargers or Nathan Vashar from the Bears.

Philly gets Eric Coleman from the Jets and Micheal Turner from the Chargers. Jets get DJ Hackett from Seattle.

Same thing with 2003:
Philly gets Robert Mathis from the Colts.
Jacksonville gets Dan Koppen from the Patriots.
Tampa Bay gets Doug Gabriel from Oakland.
Seattle gets Mike Scifres from the Chargers.
Baltimore gets Jordan Black from KC.

This is like the Michael Vick trade article from 2006... but anyways... I can see your points but...

Reginald... I Disagree!

153
by Stiller Fan in Cleveland (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 2:23am

Another random thought, do you think compensatory picks also came about because the teams that lose good free agents are generally better at developing players? If this is the case, perhaps the NFL thought funneling these teams extra rookies would enhance the overall talent level as well.

Probably not, just a thought...

154
by Stiller Fan in Cleveland (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 2:32am

Another random point; I thought the "subtract a percent" scheme might eliminate the need for compensatory picks. Perhaps it'd work better as a tag, like a team can use the discount on three players. Or even better, the discount is only valid on players drafted in the 4th round or below.

I just think it's silly for a team to develop, say, ten good young players and have to lose 5 to teams with less skill or expenditures in coaching. Perhaps it enhances parity, but it also acts as a disincentive to the franchise to increase the overall level of talent.

Use the "Official FO Soon to Be Ineffective Player" Larry Johnson. If you weren't going to resign him, you'd run him 500 times in a year. While good for your team in the short term, it's pretty bad for the league to lose that talent overall. I'd like to see a study of injury recovery time vs. skill vs. years left on contract.

Finally, maybe they should just take the total cap value of the previous year, see how much that set of players makes the next year, and give out picks based on (this year-last year). This would give a good idea of let go due to cap vs. let go by choice.

Okay, I'm done.

155
by Kevan Barlow, Anthony Thomas, Quentin Griffin, and Marcel Sh (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 3:05am

11: "There are no bad runningbacks in the NFL."

Really?

156
by Kevan Barlow, Anthony Thomas, Quentin Griffin, and Marcel Sh (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 3:05am

Sorry, that's 111.

157
by BruceNH (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 9:27am

Remember, part of the compensatory pick formula is the players performance the year after he is allowed to leave. This means that if you let a player go, he must play well for his new team in order to get a good pick. Example: would you rather have a pro bowl QB or a pick at the end of the third round(Brees)?

158
by Stiller Fan in Cleveland (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 11:59am

If they could have signed Brees, why should they get a pick (a good one, in fact) for merely optimizing their cap expenditures?

I guess I think of it this way: while I'm away, someone steals my car's CD player. I call my insurance and get compensated with a new one.

Now, I go out and buy a sweet new CD player with a changer and all kinds of other bells and whistles. I then leave my old one on my lawn with a sign that says "please take." Why should I get compensated for that?

159
by Jason Mulgrew aka The Mul Dawg aka Lord J Rocka (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 12:56pm

RE: Kevan Barlow, Anthony Thomas, Quentin Griffin, and Marcel Shipp

You have beaten me for the longest name at Football Outsiders. Congrats, bra.

I believe this trade helps the Ravens more than it helps the Bills.

I think the Bills will draft Antonio Pittman.

160
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 3:19pm

"It’s not really a question of ‘deserve,’ in my mind–that has all sorts of moral connections that aren’t really relevant to what is essentially a business decision. It’s a question of what is the EFFECT of compensatory draft picks; the effect is clear: they reward good teams. Rewarding good teams by giving them more resources=less parity. Less parity=less games being close. Less games being close=a less watchable product."

You're missing the point. Compensatory picks dont reward good teams. They reward good teams for becoming less good.

Do you really think Buffalo is going to be able to replace Clements with what is essentially pick 4.1?

Compensatory picks help spread talent around the league, and lead to MORE parity.

161
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 4:15pm

Rich,
Buffalo will be able to replace Clements with the 4 or 5 players they are able to sign due to the salary cap savings. They also have enjoyed paying Clements well below "market value" for the past couple of years.

Why don't teams that just miss out on free agents get compensatory picks? Shouldn't the 49ers be compensated because they weren't able to sign Adalius Thomas? Seemed like they gave it a better shot than the Ravens did.

Giving them to teams that actually try and fail at signing the free agent would also help encourage player movement and player movement. That's why I don't buy Pat's argument... there are many other way's to encourage teams to not re-sign their own.

I wonder if we'd be on the other side of this argument if our team allegiance switched sides.

Bottom line is: teams are kept balanced by the salary cap... there's no need for the NFL to create draft picks , and then heavily bias them towards teams that are already good and even ruin the whole purpose of the draft after the 3rd round.

162
by JACO (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 7:11pm

@MFurtek (Matthew, right?):
1) The NFL and NFLPA have used Compensatory Draft Picks since 1993, when the provision was introduced in the CBA at the time. The NFL and NFLPA will continue to use Compensatory Draft Picks as a way to help NFL teams replenish their rosters, as decreed in the new CBA, Article XVI, Section 2, part A.
2) The Compensatory Draft Pick system does not just allow 'the rich to get richer,' as you put it. It allows for teams who are unable to unwilling to sign their numerous free agent targets some sort of recourse for when they are financially unable to keep all of their players, or get raided in the offseason after numerous successful playoff appearances (such as the Patriots and Eagles the past few years, or the Packers, Cowboys, and Bills in the early to late 90's). Prolonged success drives up players' salaries on winning teams, and this is they can't afford, or choose not to, keep all of their players as the salaries increase for mediocre players (see: David Patten, Dexter Jackson, Larry Brown, David Givens, etc.) after successful postseason runs. Smaller market teams who can't afford or choose not to sign all of their players also receive help to replenish through their roster through the draft in this way. Over the long haul teams like Buffalo, Cleveland, Jacksonville, and Arizona probably aren't going to be able to keep doling out huge bonuses at the pace the NFL seems like it is gearing towards, even though every team can spend the same 'salary cap dollars' each year. Compensatory Picks will probably be more important to those types of teams moving forward, even as some teams are getting smarter at managing their cap dollars and often locking up their best players before they reach free agency.
3) I don't know what team your allegiance is to, but I understand the argument that the NFL Salary Cap is what should balance teams. From my persepective though, I think the Compensatory Picks are an interesting wrinkle that I would like to see stay in the CBA, because as far as I'm concerned, the more balance there is the better it is for the League.

163
by smashmouth football (not verified) :: Sun, 03/11/2007 - 7:46pm

Anyway, back to the original topic. Count me as a Ravens fan who agrees (just this once) with Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston. I think the Ravens showed desperation because their time window for competing for the Big Prize probably ends after this season. They WAY overpaid both in draft picks and money for McGahee. They could have drafted a decent RB in the third round and would have TWO more picks for OL or LB or CB. Two years from now it will be painfully obvious to everyone what a disaster this was for the Ravens.

164
by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Sun, 03/11/2007 - 10:39pm

smf,

This is what bothers me about Preston. He takes the obvious position, and extrapolates upon it without doing much reserch beyond that which comforts him.

The "way overpaid" on picks simply doesn't bear out. The value chart that virtually every team in the league uses for draft picks actually has the Ravens paying less for McGahee than the Jets did for Thomas Jones, a back with far less productivity in his future than McGahee projects. If there is an overpay, it's hardly as egregious as he would like it to be.

The same goes for the contract, which is so backloaded that, although McGahee will be well compensated, the real cap hit won't come until 4 years out, by which time we will know for certain if the window has closed or not. This is the kind of basic cap reading that a paid commentator on the NFL should be up on; but Preston doesn't bother, because that's not his schtick. He's more of the reliable grouch.

Now, I just expressed my own concerns about the Ravens depth in the secondary and O-line (I'm not as worried about LB because all these years of watching Rex play chess with his 'tweeners make sme think he knows what he's doing), so I do wish that we had extra picks to cover those areas. We will get them through the compensatory process, and, even if Preston can't bother to check up on it, Newsome has a pretty good record on UFA's and low-rounders. And I still think the first-rounder will be O-line.

165
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2007 - 11:12am

I like reading your thoughts on compensation picks. #153, that is interesting.

How do you guys feel about the supplemental draft?

You know what I think about sometimes, trading NEXT years #1 draft pick for a pick this year to draft a QB ( like Washington and Buffalo did). I am not saying Losman and Campbell will be good, but I like the logic.

If you think the players are good, why not do that. You can sign the guys to this years money ( not future inflated dollars), and you can sit NEXT years draft pick on the bench THIS year to learn. QB's have to learn and by having that guy a year early to sit and learn you just might increase his chances of success. Your getting next years pick this year, and your getting him cheaper and your giving him a year to learn. Now you do run the risk of having a crappier season next year and having the "opportunity" for a better pick, but if you like the QB in the first place it could potentially be worth it.

166
by smashmouth football (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2007 - 11:08pm

Re: 164

TK--I hope you turn out to be right. I just get a bad feeling about the Ravens shelling out $7.5M up front and $6M after the end of this year for any RB. I guess FO has convinced me of their basic fungibility. And this guy has already had one major injury.

167
by Stiller Fan in Cleveland (not verified) :: Wed, 03/14/2007 - 6:53pm

165:

I like the general idea of the supplemental draft, as it essentially gives everyone a shot at everybody if they're willing to pay enough (assuming that the player isn't utterly amazing).

In fact, I think it'd be amazing if the regular draft turned into an auction of sorts. Need 3 players? Blow your whole rookie pool on those players. Need a whole new team (I'm looking at you, TB)? Pay 25 people rookie minimum. If you wanted, you could give worse teams a bigger pool, mirroring the effect of them drafting first.

The point is, I think it's somewhat unfair for a team to get first crack at players simply because they sucked. Also, with the cap, you can just let everybody be a free agent without a rich team signing everybody.

I wouldn't expect automatic free agency to be the answer, but auctioning off players would be way more exciting, fairer, and reward good cap management.

Again, just another off the wall thought that doesn't probably wouldn't work in the real world..

168
by pharmboyrick (not verified) :: Thu, 03/15/2007 - 1:53am

He has not performed as well as an 'elite' back should have regardles of his team-mates. Truthfully Balty would be better off if they kept Chester Taylor ly instaed of Jamal. I would take Taylor and Mike Anderson over an un-proven and VERY overpaid McGhehee and use the money to keep the defense together.

169
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Thu, 03/15/2007 - 9:22pm

Oh, yea, keeping Chester Taylor instead of Jamal last year would have been a much better course of action than this. But reaching for a running back where they are in the 1st round, or relying on an unproven mid-rounder, or signing a mediocre free agent like Dominic Rhodes, would be a much poorer decision than this one.

McGahee is a good running back, something the Ravens haven't had since 2004. That counts for something.